Pope Affirms Church's Commitment to Ecumenism

Notes 25 Years of Finnish Catholic-Lutheran Pilgrimages

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI affirmed the Church’s “wholehearted” commitment to ecumenical relations when receiving a Catholic-Lutheran delegation from Finland during the week dedicated to praying for Christian unity.

The Pope noted today that the visit marks the 25th anniversary of these annual trips to Rome for the feast day of St. Henrik, their country’s patron, which will be celebrated Tuesday.

It is with gratitude, the Holy Father said, “that I recall how these meetings have contributed significantly to strengthening the relations among the Christians in your country.”

Speaking in English, he affirmed that this path of ecumenism has been embraced “wholeheartedly” by the Catholic Church, in a special way since the Second Vatican Council.

Benedict XVI acknowledged the delegation’s address that mentioned the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, now ten years old, which is a concrete sign of the brotherhood rediscovered between Lutherans and Catholics.”

“In this context,” he continued, “I am pleased to note the recent work of the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in Finland and Sweden on questions deriving from the Joint Declaration.”

“It is greatly to be hoped that the text resulting from the dialogue will contribute positively to the path which leads to the restoration of our lost unity,” the Pope added.

He expressed his gratitude to the delegation for their “perseverance” in the “twenty-five years of pilgrimage together.”

These years, the Pontiff said, “demonstrate your respect for the Successor of Peter as well as your good faith and desire for unity through fraternal dialogue.”

He continued: “It is my fervent prayer that the various Christian Churches and ecclesial communities which you represent may build on this sense of brotherhood as we persevere in our pilgrimage together.

“Upon you and all those in your pastoral care I am pleased to invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.”

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-28080?l=english

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